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National Center on Secondary Education and Transition

Transition Team Development and Facilitation

Four Tools for Interagency Transition Teams


The following tools are suggested as a means to support the process of developing, conducting, maintaining, and evaluating a state interagency transition team. To assist the reader in using the following tools, nine Principles of Teaming are shared in the beginning of this section. The authors believe these Principles serve as a useful guide to becoming involved in any team effort. While this Introductory Tool is comprised of one summary reading and a worksheet, Tools 1-4 are more lengthy, integrating recommended practices as they relate to the Principles with explanatory narrative and sequenced activities and practices. Thus, each of these tools can be used as a “how-to” guide, offering: 1) a sequence of recommended steps; 2) tips on how to apply the principles; and 3) sample worksheets for team members and/or leaders to use. These comprehensive tools are:

Introductory Tool: Using Teaming Principles to Guide Your Work (see below)
Tool 1: How to Build an Effective Interagency Transition Team
Tool 2: How to Decide Initial Roles, Responsibilities, and the Team Vision
Tool 3: How to Conduct Interagency Transition Team Meetings
Tool 4: Knowing if Your Interagency Team is On-Track and Meeting its Goals

Each tool begins with a purpose statement and listing, in sequence, what is included in the tool. This is followed by a narrative overview of important discussion points of the tool.

Introductory Tool: Using Teaming Principles to Guide Your Work

The following nine Principles of Teaming (Stodden & Smith, 1996) are a set of quality indicators for high-functioning teams. The Principles are integrated within each tool and aligned with the activities presented. They encompass fundamental concepts and quality indicators of effective interagency transition teaming, and may optimize the success of an interagency transition team. These principles are based on more than a decade of development and evaluation across several states and local settings.

Perhaps the most critical aspect of the Principles is that all team members are active participants and have an equal voice in decisions. These Principles may prove invaluable when shared and explored with all team members. If conflicts arise during team problem-solving activities, referring to the Principles can be a way to arrive at consensus.

Each Principle is briefly explained in this introductory section. A synopsis is provided in chart form, and a worksheet is given for a group activity to make use of the Principles.

The Nine Principles of Teaming (Stodden & Smith, 1996)

Principle 1: A team reflects and demonstrates a shared/collective vision.
A collective vision is the dream or goal that aligns the team in pursuit of its mission. It encourages team members to band together toward a common destination. Although a collective vision may evolve and change slightly as time goes on or as new team members are added, its core intent is to speak to a constant view of a preferred future. The vision reflects a gathering and building of ideas, feelings, and actions. The team revisits the vision and its related mission regularly to keep it current and present in each team member’s mind. The vision provides the team aspiration as well as guidance for discussion and problem-solving. It reflects the ideals for which the team stands. The team vision is crucial knowledge for recruiting members of the team. If a potential team member does not share the team’s vision, this could spell disaster for achieving team outcomes. This is why one of the four tools in this section focuses on careful recruitment of team members.

Results in movement toward...

Results in movement away from...

• Collective purpose
• Activities related to mission
• Agreement on agenda
• Collective direction
• Unlimited goals

• Private purpose
• Random activities unrelated to mission
• Hidden agendas
• Unguided direction
• Narrow goals

Principle 2: A team promotes empowerment of all members.
Empowerment is essential to a highly effective team. Team members must share power in making decisions and taking action while working toward the vision or mission. Each member must feel that power is equalized and believe that he or she makes a difference. An empowered team focuses on strengths and capabilities; utilizes the contributions and resources of its members and supporters; has a depth of knowledge about central issues; follows effective operational procedures and is aware and competent in diversity issues; creates an effective networking system; communicates openly; and shares responsibility. The team demonstrates power through, rather than power over, attitudes and behavior. An empowered team is a vehicle for making improvements in individuals’ lives, classrooms, schools, organizations, and communities.

Results in movement toward...

Results in movement away from...

• Equity between members
• Integrated training opportunities
• Fluid and interchangeable team roles
• Team tasks assigned on basis of expertise

• Disparity between members
• Segregated training opportunities
• Rigid team roles
• Team tasks assigned on basis of power or authority

Principle 3: A team demonstrates shared decision making.

Each individual on the team demonstrates shared participation and responsibility in the decision-making process. This can occur in a variety of ways such as consensus building, using team agreement strategies, or other collaborative processes. It is essential that team members feel shared ownership for decisions and assume responsibility for their results. This does not mean that each member is expected to be equally knowledgeable or play an equal role in a given process or task, since members all bring different skills and interests to each situation. By getting to know and recognize each member, the team can determine equitable ways to make decisions while maintaining the integrity of individual members, as well as their right to agree or disagree.

Results in movement toward...

Results in movement away from...

• Cooperation
• Horizontal influence
• Broader dialogue
• Leader facilitation
• Flexible decision-making

• Competition
• Leader domination
• Restricted dialogue
• Vertical control
• Rigid decision-making

Principle 4: A team demonstrates synergy – the whole is more than the sum of its parts.
Interagency teams gain when the relationships among its members add value to the efforts of the team as a whole. That is, the members of the team collectively create visions, ideas, and solutions not likely to occur if they were working in isolation. What makes this happen is often difficult to recognize. However, it usually comes from group discussion, in which a feeling of trust has developed and people are free to think creatively and not feel criticized. Synergy can manifest itself as high energy, enthusiasm, humor, and the motivation to tackle the “impossible.”

Results in movement toward...

Results in movement away from...

• Time spent well together
• High goals
• Higher order thinking
• Plans of action
• Strength in “the pack”

• Time in isolation
• Non-challenging goals
• Regurgitation thinking
• Plans based on reaction
• Strength in “the wolf”

Principle 5: A team highly regards diversity as a necessary part of creativity and collaboration.
Maintaining diversity within a team requires the creation of an environment where it is safe to share important aspects of oneself – beliefs, wishes, ideas, strengths, weaknesses, curiosities, and uncertainties. Along with the sharing, there is respectful acceptance of differences and differing perspectives. The essence of teaming is to encourage the participation of a diverse group of individuals with a common cause. Within the team, practices reflect respect for cultural, ethnic, gender, and economic status of members. As processes of the team and content areas are dealt with, these diverse perspectives become infused.

Results in movement toward...

Results in movement away from...

• Acceptance of opinions
• Group action
• Fixing the system
• Diverse thinking within group
• Inclusion

• Suppression of dissent
• Individual actions
• Fixing the blame
• Group-think
• Exclusion

Principle 6: A team fosters the full inclusion and participation of people impacted by its actions.

Teams must be provided opportunities to engage in thoughtful, provocative conversations with large numbers of participants and persons who have a stake in the team’s outputs. Inclusion in the teaming effort is a given, and the team process reflects how full participation is to be achieved. Major stakeholders are involved to the degree most beneficial to their needs. An environment is created to ensure that people are included who are invested in the team’s vision and impacted by its actions. Not only do team members believe in full participation, but they act to achieve it. This requires the creation of neutral and accessible environments, and provision of supports and accommodations for team members who have historically been overlooked. This principle fosters open communication where everyone has a voice and can influence team decisions.

Results in movement toward...

Results in movement away from...

• “Us” mentality
• Supports
• Focus on questions
• Inherent inclusion

• “We-them” mentality
• Barriers
• Focus on problems and solutions
• Tokenism

Principle 7: A team facilitates the self-determination and personal growth of itself and its individual members.

An interagency transition team that fosters self-determination will provide each member with personal benefit for his or her efforts. Such a team inspires individual expression and growth as well as collective action and team growth. Although ownership regarding the team is strong, each team member feels that he or she is a unique entity within the team. Increasingly, members can effectively seek, find, and utilize the personalized services they need for personal development and progress. Teams and individuals change and grow as they acquire new attitudes, information, skills, and experiences. There is a shift from dependence on outside sources for meeting needs to sharing expertise with others.

Results in movement toward...

Results in movement away from...

• Transformation
• Actualization
• “Adhocracy” organizations
• “We” is better than “me”

• Stagnation
• Frustration
• Bureaucratic organizations
• “Me” is better than “we”

Principle 8: A team is responsive to its authentic (ecological) context.
A team is a complex, living system that both impacts and is impacted by its local environment. Real-world, on-site issues and problems of team stakeholders must be addressed, and stakeholders must be able to relate and use personal experiences as the context from which to address these problems. The team operates in an interdependent and reciprocal fashion with full consideration given to the local system in which agendas appear. There is a web of connectedness to actual on-site problems and solutions.

Results in movement toward...

Results in movement away from...

• Interrelated decisions
• Cumulative interactions
• Holistic scanning and interpretation of environment

• Decisions that occur in a vacuum
• Isolated perspective
• Environment does not affect the team

Principle 9: A team reflects and demonstrates a dynamic and fluid quality.
Teaming is a dynamic process in which content is produced and transformed continuously. A constantly evolving team remains flexible, adaptable, and accommodating. The team must be conscious about its own operations and have a process for training and re-focusing. Leadership must be situational and roles within the group must not become static. As well, the team must constantly monitor both its internal processes and the external environment for changes that affect team goals and decisions.

Results in movement toward...

Results in movement away from...

• Building on strengths
• Improved processes
• Multi-dimensionality

• Eliminating weaknesses
• Status quo
• Uni-dimensionality

Reminder: Use Introductory Tool: The Nine Principles Reflections Worksheet to help your team make use of the Principles.

Table of Contents

Cover Page


Background on Interagency Transition Teams

Four Tools for Interagency Transition Teams
Overview/Introductory Tool: Using Teaming Principles to Guide Your Work
Tool 1: How to Build an Effective Interagency Transition Team
Tool 2: How to Determine Initial Roles, Responsibilities, and the Team Vision
Tool 3: How to Conduct Interagency Transition Team Meetings
Tool 4: Knowing if Your Interagency Transition Team is On-Track and Meeting its Goals

Examples of Evidence-Based Models of Interagency Transition Teams


Additional Resources

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Citation: Stodden, R. A., Brown, S. E., Galloway, L. M., Mrazek, S., & Noy, L. (2004). Essential tools: Interagency transition team development and facilitation. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota, Institute on Community Integration, National Center on Secondary Education and Transition.

Permission is granted to duplicate this publication in its entirety or portions thereof. Upon request, this publication will be made available in alternative formats. For additional copies of this publication, or to request an alternate format, please contact: Institute on Community Integration Publications Office, 109 Pattee Hall, 150 Pillsbury Drive SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455, (612) 624-4512, icipub@umn.edu.

This document was published by the National Center on Secondary Education and Transition (NCSET). NCSET is supported through a cooperative agreement #H326J000005 with the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs. Opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of the U.S. Department of Education Programs, and no official endorsement should be inferred. The University of Minnesota, the U.S. Department of Education, and the National Center on Secondary Education and Transition are equal opportunity employers and educators.